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Posted: 1/3/2006 8:54:21 AM EDT
First off, I've been taking Inshiniryu Style Karate for the past 7 years. I am currently a 1st Degree brown, one belt away from black.

I enjoyed it for the first couple years, now its become more a nuisance. The biggest problem I have, is that most of the classes revolve around katas, teaching and demonstrating them. The majority of the test is based on katas, and a little on self defense and sparring.

As much as kata might be a good training tool, I don't believe it'll help in real world applications. I think the time should be spent more on the fighting aspect, and defending yourself.. rather than doing 2 hours worth of funky dances around the Dojo. Furthermore, It really irks me when other brown belts and black belts tell me that it'll help me on the street.. that when I practice my kicks (forward snap and sideblades) it'll help me when I run into a mugger/trouble in the real world.

Bottom line is, I won't be using sideblades, or round house kicks on the street. My method of fighting is to take out their supports (legs) and force them on the ground. We have 19 kicks at our disposal, I would probably use max of 6 of those...

Ironically enough, I spent a couple months learning Ju-Jitsu/Joint locking techniques along with mutiple throws with a friend, and just from those few months, I've learned more about how to actually defend yourself, than in 7 years of taking the art form.

Does anybody else feel this way? Or am I barking up the wrong tree? I am not saying that Kata is bad.. I just don't think focusing on it entirely is a good idea. Looking at the black belts who have graduated in the last few years, I'd say that them earning their black belt has given them a false sense of confidence, which is a dangerous mindset to have in the street.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 9:26:36 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 9:34:31 AM EDT

Originally Posted By RAVYN:
www.geoffthompson.com/guest_writers/IanAbernethy/Guest_Writers_Iain_Abernethy_page10.htm

this is good reading on kata sparring.



From what I read of it... it seems like its more free-ranging motion of kata, as you practice different techniques without having to follow a strict guideline. Which is great, I do that myself.

What I am talking about is where you have to follow a certain path of steps/moves/blocks/kicks, there is no variation at all, it has to be done a certain way, or you won't move up towards the next belt.

Unless I totally missed the article's meaning?
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 9:49:03 AM EDT
heh...well, I, like you prolly find katas pretty boring over time. I don't think you are barking up the wrong tree. They are a useful tool and the patterns are set up to teach flow and balance. I always wondered why "kata" and free sparring was always so different and never got a straight answer from most instructors. The fact is, most instructors don't know how to fight with katas...Thats why I thought the kata sparring article was so interesting. Inside most katas, there is alot of jujitsu if you understand it. If you take a few years of jujitsu, you'll prolly have a much better understanding of katas. As far as fighting with a kata as its set down...is pretty impracticle. Just my opinion.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 9:54:04 AM EDT
Its not that I find them really boring, per say... but as you said, its impractical.

I'd rather train one on one with someone, about certain techniques/moves, rather than continue to do kata as it serves no real purpose. I understand that there is a underlying meaning to it, but, its not what I am really looking for.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 4:32:06 PM EDT
When I used to do karate, our instructor encouraged us to visit other schools and workout with them. Back then, there were certain schools that didn't teach kata. Ours did. One of the schools that I used to frequent didn't teach kata per se, but did teach a combination of moves that the students had to master, before they could move up in belts. That school put a lot of emphasis on sparring. I learned a lot from them, and most of it the hard way.

Maybe it is time for you to go out and look around at different schools. All good schools welcome visitors. Go to a workout. Talk to the instructor. Watch what they are teaching. Ask the instructor if you can workout with them. A good practicioner of karate should be able to hold his own against other styles. You will pick up a lot of different techniques, and this will make you a better fighter.

You are a brown belt. By now you should know enough to be able to tell the difference between a good school and a bad one.

Link Posted: 1/3/2006 5:36:43 PM EDT
I am also a first-degree brown belt, and currently a teacher at my local school. Here are my humble thoughts on the topic.

As I teach it, a form ( kata/pinan ) will never be used in its original form on the street. It is impcratical, and not feasable that opponents will attack from perfect angles and at separate times.

The point of it, is to make certain movements into muscle memory. Think of it this way - kata is the dictionary of the old-age martial artist. It was their version of a manual, and held all basic movement in any style.

Once you get the form into muscle memory, then you can begin breaking down the form into pieces to consider the various applications of each one, and the multitude of possible uses. This is a time to make yourself practice slow application of these movements with a partner in sparring, however you can change the exercise and throw in curveballs.

The ultimate goal, is to familarize yourself with the movement, and then reduce your dependence on set patterns of movement by taking invididual pieces of the movement and breaking it down into real-world scenarios.

By doing this, you gain the asset of unpredictability in a fight, and you lose the tendency to freeze in a confrontation, but rather continuing a particular movement and modifying it on the fly to work.

Amitofo.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 5:41:27 PM EDT
I studied Isshinryu for several years and finally got my black belt in it.

Look at it this way... if it's boring, and you hate it, it's part of the discipline that you need to get through the journey to black belt.

I hated it too. I preferred the fighting.

My instructor actually failed me once on a kata after telling me that it was perfect. The lesson was to accept your instructor's decision no matter what and keep trying or something like that.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 4:35:34 PM EDT
As a martial arts instructor, I can say the benefits of Kata are dependent upon the instructor teaching the Kata.

You have to keep in mind, that a traditional Kata was developed generations ago to teach principles of the particular style being taught. These principles have real world applications that are very beneficial on the street. Unfortunately what I have seen from many dojos is the mindless memorization of moves, similar to a programming for a robot. Students can show you what the Kata is made up of in terms of moves, but have no idea as to why they are learning it.

If this is your case, I strongly suggest seeking out other schools. Don't discount Kata just because of this experience, but if your not being shown the full potential, then it is just a waste of time and money on silly dance moves.
Link Posted: 1/5/2006 6:57:49 AM EDT
The common interpretation of kata as a "fignt against multiple opponents" is asinine. Attackers don't wait their turn like actors in bad kung fu movie. Further, practicing kata without a understanding of what the moves represent turns it into meaningless aerobic exercise. Unfortunately, this is how kata is taught in most studios.

The truth is that all the moves you practiced in jiu-jitsu are in the kata...they include strikes, kicks, joint-locks and throws. I think the best way to think of kata is as a book on self-defense. Each kata is a chapter, and each move or series of moves is a paragrah. The moves are put together in a flowing whole to make it easier to practice and remember, but the moves are meant to be separated out and used individually.

Ian Abernathy's stuff is good. Dr. Rick Clark's books are also helpful. Another author to look up is Bruce Clayton. If you continue cross-taining in jiu-jitsu and judo think about those movements and how they are similar to movements in kata; I guarentee you will see alot of relationships.
Link Posted: 1/5/2006 11:09:33 AM EDT
The Kata I perform.. is taught with the impression that I am fighting an imginary foe.

It goes somewhat like this..


I step out into a double downward block, I cresent step up with my right foot, punching with my right towards my opponent's solar plexes, I cresent step up with my left punching with my left, towards the same area.

The katas are taught, then explained as to why you do each step.. however, I still believe that it is a waste of time. 85% of the class, is spent on kata (as mentioned above, its the biggest % of your test score), I think the teaching would be more useful, if taught HOW to fight.. how to get out of situations that you might run into.

Its not practical at all.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 11:13:28 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/6/2006 11:13:48 AM EDT by Hartmann]
VooDoo:

I did karate for several years (wado-kai) and had the same questions you are having now. Bottom line, I now believe that any MA must have sparring in it to test its effectiveness. That's why I like boxing, muay thai, brazilian jiu-jitsu...their classes tend to have you do it against an opponent.

Have you checked out www.bullshido.net? They can be a bit crass there but are really geared towards testing what does and doesn't really work.

Link Posted: 1/6/2006 11:29:07 AM EDT
VooDoo.... if I were your instructor, I don't care how much fighting ability you had, I would not award you your first dan right now.

Those 'Funky Dances' are what create muscular memory, or reflex. Sparring is important, but so is the simple execution of the technique.

Additionally, there are many hidden aspects of the art within kata that you will discover after you stop viewing kata as funky dances. Focus on doing those funky dances. Put everything you have into them. Stop sparring completely for a while. When you feel the temptation to stop doing a kata, keep doing it. Do not give in to your surface emotions. Meditate and discover the inner source of your Ki.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 3:43:58 PM EDT
Kata is a controversial topic of the martial arts, it ranks right up the with the: GM vs. Ford, 9mm vs. 45, colt vs. Bushmaster, blonds vs. brunets, Big cans vs. Small cans, etc. etc.

There are many different thoughts / options on this subject. I certainly don’t wish to start a pissing contest. One option on Kata’s is that it is tradition, Some teach kata with the only goal or out come of Kata is that it is required to get your next belt. Some teach an hour class of karate broken down into, one part kata, one part exercises, one part sparring, one part self defense, or something like this. These classes more or less are teaching 4 different topics.

One other thought on Kata is that there has to be more to it. Why in the heck would Masters have done Kata all their life? How could Masters be so deadly? Perhaps there is more to Kata.

In the School I have been studying, Kata is taught as a tool to teach self-defense. Kata is like show and tell. Your hand moving toward you could possibly be an opponent’s hand moving toward you (the show), the next part of the move maybe the response to the attack. (the tell). Kata is the language that maps out where you attack your opponent at.

On common thing heard about Kata is that it’s totally BS (Funky Dances). Why would I fight 3 opponents with this form? Why would 2 of 3 opponents watch me take one out, then wait there turn for me to attack them? This is very true. 3 attackers would just come at you at once in this day of age. We interpret a move that may repeat itself in different directions, differently than above. A turn in a Kata could tell you that you either are turning your opponent to you, or your turning yourself to your opponent. Isn’t it common that you may step off 45 degrees to an opponent when parring a punch? A lot of forms have moves in them moving to a 45… Repeating a move 3 times in different direction just may mean that it would work in all 3 directions not that its 3 attackers.

All my self-defense that I know comes right out of the Kata. This to me makes my Kata more meaningful to me. When I practice my form I can be visualizing an attack so that when the attack occurs I have that muscular memory already developed from my forms.

I repeat, this is just my opinion, and I wish to start no flames here. I certainly wish you stick with it and I wish you the best of luck. I started the arts late in life and it has made a very positive impact on my life. I hope it does to you also........
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 7:26:34 PM EDT

Originally Posted By BenDover:
VooDoo.... if I were your instructor, I don't care how much fighting ability you had, I would not award you your first dan right now.

Those 'Funky Dances' are what create muscular memory, or reflex. Sparring is important, but so is the simple execution of the technique.

Additionally, there are many hidden aspects of the art within kata that you will discover after you stop viewing kata as funky dances. Focus on doing those funky dances. Put everything you have into them. Stop sparring completely for a while. When you feel the temptation to stop doing a kata, keep doing it. Do not give in to your surface emotions. Meditate and discover the inner source of your Ki.



I understand what the purpose of them are.. as its been drilled into my head enough times for me to repeat it while I am asleep.

However, the main purpose that I look for in karate.. is how to defend myself. The black belts who I have seen gone up, could easily be taken down by any street thug, as the black belt gives them a false sense of confidence that they can handle themselves.

We rarely spar as it is, the majority of class time is spent on those "funky dances", I want to be able to learn how to defend myself.. specifically on the street.

And to be honest sir, I couldn't really care wether or not I get black belt. The true purpose of karate of any art, is what YOU get out of it... not whats around your belt. What I am getting out of it right now is not how to defend myself, but more of what spirtual aspect/focussing of ones energy. All the energy in the world, and all the spirit you can muster.. ain't saving your ass when cheeto comes after you with a 5 inch blade.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 8:52:00 PM EDT
If you are studying a system for the purpose of learning self-protection who should be in a school with a similar outlook. . After 7 years you dont feel you have the ability to protect yourself with the material you've been training in, it is more than time for you to move on.

When it comes to martial arts in the US, way too many instructors are nothing more than pimps. These guys (and gals) make a killing serving as a baby-sitter, self-esteem coach, and sometimes cult-like figure head. While they tell you they can teach you how to defend yourself, they often fall way short of this, but still make plenty of money in the process. A good sign of this is the "10 year" black belt. There is absolutely no reason it should take a person 10 years to earn thier 1st degree black belt in one of the Asian systems. The guys that stretch out the belt ranking this long typically (though not always) are simply looking to get the most money out of the student as they can.

Also, dont forget that a belt ranking doesnt have anything to do with the ability to protect yourself in a real fight.

If earning a black belt does mean something to you, try this. Taking a break from the class and do some cross-training in more realistic systems. You'll be meeting your goal of learning to better defend yourself and you'll be escaping the monotony of a kata driven class.

As an aside, a lot of schools are kata driven because it is a low risk activity. Nothing drives up an instructor's insurance rates (and reduces student enrollment) like high impact training.
Link Posted: 1/7/2006 1:38:39 PM EDT

Originally Posted By VooDoo3dfx:

Originally Posted By BenDover:
VooDoo.... if I were your instructor, I don't care how much fighting ability you had, I would not award you your first dan right now.

Those 'Funky Dances' are what create muscular memory, or reflex. Sparring is important, but so is the simple execution of the technique.

Additionally, there are many hidden aspects of the art within kata that you will discover after you stop viewing kata as funky dances. Focus on doing those funky dances. Put everything you have into them. Stop sparring completely for a while. When you feel the temptation to stop doing a kata, keep doing it. Do not give in to your surface emotions. Meditate and discover the inner source of your Ki.



I understand what the purpose of them are.. as its been drilled into my head enough times for me to repeat it while I am asleep.

However, the main purpose that I look for in karate.. is how to defend myself. The black belts who I have seen gone up, could easily be taken down by any street thug, as the black belt gives them a false sense of confidence that they can handle themselves.

We rarely spar as it is, the majority of class time is spent on those "funky dances", I want to be able to learn how to defend myself.. specifically on the street.

And to be honest sir, I couldn't really care wether or not I get black belt. The true purpose of karate of any art, is what YOU get out of it... not whats around your belt. What I am getting out of it right now is not how to defend myself, but more of what spirtual aspect/focussing of ones energy. All the energy in the world, and all the spirit you can muster.. ain't saving your ass when cheeto comes after you with a 5 inch blade.



Well then you already know the routine. Find a style that meets your needs and stop studying with your current instructor. My statement about your being awarded a black belt is not a dig. It's the recognition that you aren't mentally engaged in your art anymore. Any good instructor would either help you change your mindset, or they would help you decide to stop studying with them.

Maybe JKD, muy thai, or shorin ryu taijutsu would be more suited to your needs.
Link Posted: 1/7/2006 1:54:43 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/7/2006 1:55:39 PM EDT by easy610]
Took Issinryu for a couple years and the kata bored the heck out of me....in the first month of JuJitsu, I felt more capable as a fighter than I EVER did from Isshinryu. Kata has it's place as far as teaching discipline I suppose, but as practical aspect of fighting??

ps. No flame to Isshinryu. I did enjoy it very much...still make my fist w/thumb on top....hard to break old habits.
Link Posted: 1/7/2006 1:59:52 PM EDT
Lots of reading, I skipped a lot of it.

Maybe you should try a different art, more geared toward modern fighting?
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